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EFL: BORO vs Cardiff

Middlesbrough threatened to relegate  will host Cardiff City at Riverside Stadium in the penultimate round. Both teams have won big victories in the middle of the week to keep their fate in their hands, but relegation pressure persists as Neil Warnock prepares to face his former club.

After keeping the starting lineup unchanged for several matches, Warnock made 4 changes to his starting line-up for his trip to Reading. Aynsley Pears, Anfernee Dijksteel, Roberts and Marcus Tavernier all came out, with Britt Assombalonga among the substitutes. Roberts especially plays well against Reading and Warnock can also leave him in the first team on Saturday and Boro does not have any injury problems in the previous 4 days of match preparation. Boro was just over 3 points with the red light group when Warnock replaced Jonathan Woodgate last month, but 3 victories from six have since lifted them to the 18th. The Smoggies have shown true fighting spirit to fight won against Reading on Tuesday, with Patrick Roberts playing a role in both goals as Boro won 2-1. That victory is the fourth home victory in 5 matches - helping Warnock's teachers and 5 points more than the relegation zone with the remaining 2 matches. Survival is not entirely guaranteed, then, but one more point from matches against Cardiff and Wednesday Sheffield is certainly enough. It will mark another impressive achievement for Warnock in his career that saw 8 record promotions, the latest with Cardiff a few years ago.

As for Cardiff, Neil Harris has given Lee Tomlin the first starting kick since restarting last month and the player has shown his quality once again with a win over Derby. Despite this, Tomlin's fitness is still a concern and Harris may also choose to use him as a side duo in the Northeast this weekend. That would open the door for Will Vaulks to return as a central midfielder, while Leandro Bacuna should continue to act as a right-back instead of Dion Sanderson. City defeated Derby County 2-1 on Tuesday to open a 2-point gap with the group chasing their final promotion spot on the play-off route, with 3 points ahead of Millwall and Swansea City.